Every year at the end of January, Data Privacy Day is held with the support of a number of leading industry organizations. The focus is to raise awareness in both the private and business sectors of the need to protect stored data in order to safeguard the identities of citizens.

This year’s theme, “Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data, Enabling Trust,” couldn’t have come at a more poignant time considering the news from the Identity Theft Resource Center that 2014 was a record-setting year for the highest number of data breaches in a twelve-month period, a time frame that doesn’t even include the widely known Target data breach that compromised more than 100 million consumers’ personally identifiable information.

Data Privacy Day, sponsored by dozens of privately-owned companies and government agencies alike, is an effort to bring data security to the forefront in order to avoid the types of preventable data breaches that occur nearly every day. The goals of this campaign seek to:

  • Raise awareness and educate consumers to better understand how their personal information may be collected and the benefits and risks of sharing personal data
  • Empower consumers to express their expectations for the use, protection and management of their personal data
  • Inspire consumers through concrete, simple and actionable tips to more actively manage their online lives
  • Encourage and motivate consumers to consider the privacy implications of their online actions for themselves and others
  • Encourage businesses to be data stewards by being open and honest about how they collect, use and share personal information and clearly communicating any available privacy and security controls

This initiative shines a light on the attention that government organizations and private businesses give to data storage, which asks the question: What do you do with the information you gather on citizens and consumers, and what steps have you taken to protect the information you’ve been trusted with?

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, “Data Protection Day commemorates the January 28, 1981, signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.” Events around the US will highlight different areas of concern regarding data protection, including in the health care sector, innovations in IoT connectivity (internet of things), TRUSTe web-based security, and many more.

The ITRC is participating in this yearly event by urging everyone to put a PIN, swipe pattern, or password on their phones. According to Consumer Reports, 4.5 million smartphones are lost or stolen yearly, leaving massive amounts of data available to hackers and identity thieves. By simply putting a lock on your phone, you’re adding safety and security. See the ITRC’s video about protecting your smartphone’s data.